With a diverse and growing population of senior citizens, it is important to ensure that society’s systems and services are developed in collaboration with representatives of the elderly. Senior Citizens Councils (SCCs) is an example of a new statutory mechanism to involve citizens in government decision-making.
Obligation to consult
According to Danish law, municipal governments are obliged to consult the local SCC before a final decision is made on any issue relevant to the elderly population. Typical subjects are primary health care, traffic planning, local infrastructure, cultural policy, and the standard of public service for the elderly and for disabled people. Most important is the SCCs’ potential influence on the proposals for the municipal budgets.
For senior citizens - and by senior citizens
All citizens who are 60 years old or above are eligible to vote and to run for a seat in the local SCC. The candidates elected are in their 60s, 70s and 80s and are equally split between men and women. Many of the members of the SCCs have a large network and deep roots in the local community through a long working life or as active members in local associations and clubs. This helps the SCCs engage the local senior population in debates, public meetings, and other kinds of dialogue and collaboration.
From grassroots initiative to legislation
Senior Citizens Councils were established in 1990 as a voluntary initiative in various parts of Denmark. Since then, the Danish government has passed legislation to make the SCCs a statutory requirement in all municipalities. Today there are SCCs in all municipalities in Denmark, and the civil society organisation National Association of Senior Citizens' Councils, although politically independent, is supported by the Danish Government.
Open Government Awards
Each participating country in the OGP was invited to nominate one initiative that expands and sustains citizen engagement to improve government policies and services. A total of 33 OGP countries nominated a national initiative, and an international panel of judges from both civil society and government selected the winners. The Danish initiative won the first prize, and the Danish Prime Minister presented the award to Ms Marianne Lundsgaard, Head of the Secretariat of Senior Citizens Councils, at the OGP High-Level Event in New York on 24th September 2014. Montenegro and Philippines won the second and third prize for their initiatives.
Read more about the Senior Citizens Councils
Visit the website of the Secretariat of Senior Citizens Councils
Read more about Denmark’s participation in the OGP